When you look at Sigurd Larsen’s portfolio of work you can’t help but feel a little inadequate. Even if you’ve never worked in the design industry, the scope and scale of the Berlin-based Danish architect’s work is undeniably impressive. But more so are the ideologies that underpin his work. Sustainability and moving away from elitist design form the foundations of Sigurd’s practice. As a result, his work is vast and varied and in the past few years he has taken on a range of diverse projects that include intricately designed hotel rooms, low-cost sustainable family homes and a furniture collection that develops as its materials age.
But despite exhibiting an immense talent for trans-disciplinary design, Sigurd is incredibly humble. “I always had an interest in furniture and I think, being Danish, it’s fairly normal to be an architect and also design furniture,” he laughs. “There is a long tradition about that, so I’m not at all a pioneer.
“It’s a little bit different in Germany where I live now, things are a little more separate. You know, my work in Germany would be trans-disciplinary. I think in Denmark when you work the way I do, it’s hardly considered trans-disciplinary, it’s just how architects work.”
I was first introduced to Sigurd’s work when I stumbled across the hotel room he’d designed for the Michelberger Hotel in Berlin. The room is completely unique and features an internal structure of various doors and windows which form the bedroom. Its structural complexity is complemented by a neutral colour palette and tactile materials including striking concrete beams. When I ask Sigurd about the impetus behind the project he smiles and almost child-like excitement spreads across his face.
“I mean, one of the main ideas here is this sort of childish curiosity which is connected to travel and exploring and temporarily inhabiting a space, which you do in a hotel. I’m an enthusiastic hotel guest myself. I think hotels are completely fantastic imaginary places, it’s almost like being in a movie and you play a role in someone else’s life.”
While the hotel room is undeniably creative and actively tries to engage the imaginations of its inhabitants, Sigurd says designing it also meant balancing these attributes with a sense of sophistication.
“So for me hotels are playful places, the design here is about that curiosity and desire to explore, without making it look like a playground. We worked with an aesthetic that is quite pure and clean and definitely speaks to the adult mind but is full of doors and openings and things to explore.
“You enter some sort of dialogue with the space and end up customising it. You can really subdivide this space and connect with the space by opening and closing doors. It’s an experience that I’m really excited about and that I wanted to make that the main topic of this project.”
While the customisable nature and strong aesthetic are both notable elements of the hotel room, the real design champion in this project is the use of modern art concepts. This is most explicit through the expert use of negative space to differentiate areas and create juxtapositions.
Sigurd explains, “Even though it’s [the hotel room] all interior, it’s still about distinguishing interior and exterior. When you walk through the inside of the room which is all wood then when you walk through that into a white room you get the sensation of being outside. So there is sort of an inside/outside which you would probably call negative/positive space.”